Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast, where we cover the science-based evidence behind social and emotional learning (for schools) and emotional intelligence training (in the workplace) with tools, ideas and strategies that we can all use for immediate results.
I’m Andrea Samadi, an author, and educator with a passion for learning specifically on the topics of health, wellbeing and productivity, and launched this podcast to share how important an understanding of our brain is to our everyday life and results--whether we are a teacher in the classroom, a student, or in the modern workplace.
This month, you might have noticed that we are breaking into a new season on the podcast, Season 8, where we are focusing on brain health and learning with a look at how an understanding of our brain can have an immediate improvement on our life, as well as our future generations. If you have followed our past few episodes, you’ll recall me mentioning our guest for today, Ashok Gupta, who is a well-known Neuroplasticity "brain retraining" expert who has spent the last 25 years researching the effects of the brain and the mind on illness. He suffered from a condition called ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, around 25 years ago when he was studying at Cambridge University. Through neurological research that he conducted, he managed to get himself 100% better. He then set up a clinic to treat others, and published the well- known neuroplasticity “brain retraining” recovery program he created, known as the Gupta Program[i] in 2007. He has published several medical papers, interviews experts in the field himself, like his recent interview with Dr. Joe Mather, medical director of a well-known functional medicine clinic in England called the Ruscio (ru-show) Institute[ii], and is continually researching these chronic conditions. Recently, a randomized controlled trial was published showing the Gupta Program (that Ashok created himself) was highly effective compared to a control. The program now is used to support people with a wide variety of chronic illnesses, (like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia, among others that you can see listed on his website) and Ashok Gupta is now on a mission to research and support people with chronic illness through this drug free and revolutionary, integrated and holistic approach.
When I was first introduced to Ashok and his brain-training program I thought of all the people I know personally who have had the frustrating experience of going to the doctor for something they know feels “off” in their body (whether an illness, or pain from an accident or injury” and the doctor says “there’s nothing physically wrong with them” and sends them off with a prescription for something (anti-anxiety medicine, or an anti-depressant) which doesn’t work, because it doesn’t come close to addressing the root cause.
If you’ve ever wondered why our body seems to hold onto an old injury, or what’s at the root of chronic disease like fibromyalgia, that causes years of frustration, lack of focus in the workplace and decreased productivity, there is a solution, and the answer shockingly comes with an understanding of our brain.
Let’s meet Ashok Gupta, and see how neuroscience is connected to chronic pain, and illness, and what he has seen from thousands of his patients around the world who use The Gupta Program.
Welcome Ashok, thank you for coming on the podcast to share the years of research you have done in the field of chronic pain and illness. What part of the UK have we reached you today?
INTRO Q: To begin, I want to start from the beginning of your story because it really is incredible to see what you have built. I have watched some of your recent podcasts that people can access in the show notes[iii] and everything you share in all your interviews I find fascinating, and even ground-breaking. Can you share where this all started for you beginning with your own illness?
Q1: Ashok, the whole reason we launched this podcast, was to connect the brain to learning, and I heard you say it yourself that “most medicine is based on what’s measureable, and what is measureable is in the body. But the brain is a black box.” Without looking at the brain with fMRI scans, we just don’t know what’s happening (in medicine and with learning/education). How did you first think to look at the brain with chronic illness that led you to your hypothesis that I will let you share and explain?
How did you come to discover or hypothesize that in the case of chronic pain or illness that “maybe the brain is creating an artificial environment in the body because it’s overprotecting the system to ensure its survival” explaining why we feel pain or discomfort that doctors say isn’t there?
1B: We’ve all had an injury or something where the pain just never seems to go away or neck pain I’ve always had, if I came to see you about it, would you say that it’s a conditioned, or learned response? Perhaps tied to my posture at my desk, by not sitting up straight—what’s happening in this case? Why would the pain from an injury a long time ago still remain in my neck years later? How does my brain create the inflammation/irritation I feel and how does it create a viscous loop building up more inflammation and pain in the body?
1C: What about hypnotherapy for pain reduction? With everything you have learned studying the brain and pain, why do some people respond really well to this type of therapy, while visits to the chiropractor seem to have very little impact on long-term pain relief?
1D: Has modern medicine caught up with brain retraining as a viable solution for chronic pain or disease?
Q2: When you discovered how the brain, specifically the amygdala and insula were connected to chronic pain and disease, what happened next? You obviously knew how it helped you with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but what about Long-Haul Covid, Fibromyalgia, Chemical or Mold Sensitivities, Gut Issues, Anxiety, Lyme Disease? There’s at least 12 conditions listed on your website and more listed in the Member’s Area. Is the solution to finding relief with all of these chronic diseases held within the amygdala and insula of our brain?
2B: Is emotional pain the same as physical pain?
2C: For people who want to learn more about your hypothesis, as well as your published medical papers, clinical study and new randomized control trial, they can read those on your website.[iv]How important was it for you that you were the FIRST original neuroplasticity or brain retraining program with over 20 years of experience? How has this helped you to pave the way in the brain-retraining industry?
Q3: Let’s talk about the Gupta Program that you developed. I signed up for your 28-day free trail[v] to see what your program offered, and I was impressed from the start. The FREE Trial gives you access to the first 3/15 sessions. Like you, I’m a course creator, and my earlier courses began on DVD (in the olden days) so I’m picky when it comes to online courses, with the eye from the creator point of view, and you have done an incredible job with your online program. How did you create such beautiful videos? Were you actually shooting in the mountains somewhere? Your program is definitely easy to use which does help new users looking for answers! (I’m guessing it’s on the Kajabi Platform?)
3B: I’ve just started the program, and have completed the first session out of 8. (Are there 8 session or 15?) I love it so far. Will the brain retraining in the Gupta Program help people like me with chronic pain, or is it just for the conditions we listed above?
Q4: What are the results that people are seeing using your program? I did watch the video testimonials that you have listed on your website[vi]. They are impressive! There’s a lot of success with Chronic Fatigue, and I also watched your interview with Dr. Joe Mather and his mold exposure story.
When people aren’t feeling well, what would be your recommendation? To use your brain-retraining program in conjunction with working with a medical doctor? What’s the best way to use your program? Where would people begin?
Q5: What’s next for you?
Q6: Is there anything important about your work that we have missed?
Q7: How did you learn to navigate your way through scientific articles on Pubmed?
Ashok, Thank you very much for sharing your phenomenal program with us today. It’s clear that you have a heart to help people all over the world, especially those who don’t know where to turn. I hope that anyone listening, feels “off” with their wellness visits your website to learn more and give your program a try. I know you are already helping people globally, just from reading the testimonials on your website, and do look forward to learning from you as a pioneer in mindfulness and mediation for improved well-being. Thank you so much Dr. Gupta.